Thursday, February 22, 2007

Consequent, Vincible Ignorance

It's not often that an agnostic from a Southern Baptist family refers to Catholic theology, but I can't think of better words to describe a recent letter to the editor:
Not worthy
Monday, February 19, 2007

Re: "Many New Orleanians say they are still waiting for Mayor Ray Nagin to do the job they elected him to do," Page 1, Feb. 11.

I was shocked and disappointed to see a six-page anti-Nagin article in the Sunday paper. The people wanted an honest, honorable man for mayor, and they have one.

This crucifixion of an honest mayor is not worthy of what we have come to expect of The Times-Picayune.

Pat Rabig


If I were to ask a New Orleans resident what he thought of the article that Pat Rabig found so offensive, I wouldn't get angry if he expressed similar sentiments to the letter writer. I'd just think he was an uninformed person who had only read the headline. I'd even be inclined to attribute his belief that the mayor was honest to the monkeying around of local reporters who seem to be laboring under the mistaken belief that they're doing the city a favor.

However, when a Gretna resident writes a letter to the editor citing the length of an article that he or she terms the "crucifixion of an honest mayor" and "an honest, honorable man," reasonable diligence would dictate that the writer both read the article and examine the assumption that the mayor is so honest.

The slightest examination would show that the federal government has more questions about the city's financial practices than anyone with the Times Picayune. A little further examination might lead one to question why an "honest, honorable man" who's responsible for hundreds of million of dollars of rebuilding money, but not responsible for anything remotely resembling national security, would respond to questions about city finances with demands for written FOIA requests. I might even question why he refuses to answer questions about either of the businesses (that we know of) that he started since being elected mayor or the blatant lies about campaign finances. Almost forgot the cronyism that predates Katrina.

I wouldn't have wasted the time on the above because of one letter writer who doesn't even live in New Orleans, but the mayor's reputation for personal integrity probably contributes to the city council's reluctance to challenge his leadership. If you want to see the council assert itself, challenge anyone who asserts that the mayor is honest. With the mayor amassing a huge campaign war chest, he won't be looking like a lame-duck anytime soon and federal investigations take years. Something I read in Stephanie Grace's column today:
One likely explanation is the distrust in the air, stemming from years of political corruption in Louisiana.

But if they were to come out and say so, they'd have to admit that Gov. Kathleen Blanco and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, while they may have plenty of faults, have never been tainted by major scandal.

makes me wonder whether the Picayune will be changing its position any time soon. If her bosses think that they're protecting the city by protecting the mayor, they're wrong.

Maybe the T-P's position is "L'etat est Ray" but then we're back to Bourbonism for the third time today and I really can't handle that.
I went to the Congressional Hearings yesterday. It was almost funny to hear Ray plead for the relocation of the Road Home program.

He cited the lack of major scandle as proof that the City should be in charge of the Road Home Program.
Watch out if he does get it. The state has said that it would turn over federal funds to local governments if it were relieved of responsibility to pay back any misspent funds. The federal government said no. The only way the city will get direct control over any federal money -- Road Home or other reconstruction money -- will be if it takes responsibility for repaying any money that the feds decide was misspent. Remember that overtime that the city tried to bill FEMA for and the landfill deal.
If Ray gets the money in the name of the City of New Orleans, look forward to years of litigation and people going to jail.

How many Morial administration people are in jail seven years later?
The problem is, it took almost seven years. None of them went to jail until after they ripped off the city, I think that people who are concerned think that criminal investigations (or the threat of them)are enough to keep Nagin from bankrupting the city. It's a lot easier to point out the waste than prove the fraud.
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